What is Quirkos? Quirkos is a qualitative research software that helps you categorize, manage and understand text data. This can be further used to compare different texts, while allowing you to organize themes that can come across different texts. Not only that, Quirkos also produces reports that include visual representations of the data categorized. This is a perfect tool for digital humanists who want to find ways of visually representing themes across a variety of texts.

In this tutorial, I will be going over the basic steps on how to use Quirkos. I decided to compare three different texts: Message to the Tri-Continental by Che Guevara, History Will Absolve Me by Fidel Castro, and The Second Declaration of Havana, also by Fidel Castro. The reason I chose these three texts is because I just finished reading a book by Anita Casavantes Bradford, The Revolution is for the Children: The Politics of Childhood in Havana and Miami, which argued that child-centered discourse was central to the Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 5.05.04 PMpromotion of the revolution, and I wanted to see how the three texts reflected such argument.

Quirkos offers a 30-day- free  download trial on Windows, Mac and Linux. You can download Quirkos  here.  Once you install the program, open it and you will find that it offers a quick and easy to understand step-by-step-guide.

Click to add a new source. A box will appear so that you can import source from your files stored in your computer. You can select one source, if you only want to analyze the text in that source specifically, or add more sources, if you’re like me, and want to compare the different textual documents.  Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 5.19.28 PM

After selecting a few documents, the fun begins! On the small search icon, search for words or phrases that you would like to see the frequency for in the texts.

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 Like this: I searched the word children, and sentences in which the world children appears are shown. After, create a quirkos, by clicking on the plus button on the top side, and name it children (or whatever category you are searching for). Highlight the phrases you want to place on the quirkos and drag them to that specific quirkos. Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 5.22.17 PMYou can categorize the quirkos into different colors, which comes in handy once you find a repetition in the categorization in another categorization, like in this case, when I searched for oppression and the United States. Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 5.28.53 PM

After you finish searching and categorizing words or phrases, you can also track the frequency in which certain words or phrases in your quirkos appeared. Click on view button on the side, then select the Arrange by Number of Words, and Quirks as Tree View options. The quirkos will appear in order of frequency. Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 5.33.24 PM

Last but not least, you can display your findings in a fun and interactive way. In the end, I did find that children was a word that was mentioned quite a lot in all the texts I decided to use, more than many other relevant words to the revolution. Quirkos is a fun way of finding out correlations between texts, and tracking down frequencies of words, but this by no means it is causation. Regardless, it is a really helpful, and creative qualitative research tool. Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 5.39.26 PM



  1. Wow! This looks so cool!!! Through your description and explanation, this tool doesn’t just seem easy to handle but also interesting to use. I feel that you have thoroughly convince me to use Quirkos and your screenshots are captured so perfectly that they impose on the readers a sense of vibrancy (look at those fancy colors!). To inform the readers more, perhaps you can also include some additional links that provide more materials and information regarding Quirkos 😉

  2. Quirkos is definitely something I would want to use for perhaps a research project or something of that vein. I really liked how you showed us the steps and also the thought process behind your own personal choices regarding child-centered discourse. Although I wish you could have briefly defined what a “quirkos” is, I was still able to follow along easily.

  3. Ana,

    This was a very enlightening tutorial on an interesting tool, and I love that you used a test case from your actual course work and found compelling results! Your introduction clearly set out why you might want to use this tool and how to get it (although it’s unfortunate that it is so expensive after the 30 days!), and it seems like it might be a good alternative to something like Voyant for certain use cases.

    Your step by step was easy to follow, although some of the screen shots were hard to see and I too would have liked a little more information on what a “quirkos” is and how the different view options affect the analysis.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting tool with us!

  4. As soon as I read the introductory paragraph, I knew that this was exactly the sort of tool I’ve been looking for to do text analysis, as I’ve been on the hunt for a good one for a while. When I read that it is only available in a 30 day trial (well, at least it is with my college student’s budget), I was super disappointed. Oh well!
    I too thought that it was great to see a tutorial which used data that you were exploring at the time, because in doing so, you demonstrated the power and utility of any text analysis software, not only Quirkos.

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